Chanel is pulling out all the stops when it comes to bringing onboard international stars to front its brand. From the likes of French style icon Caroline de Maigret to fresh faces like Lily-Rose Depp and Willow Smith, Chanel has maintained an impressive array of taste markers. It’s latest addition: Korean pop uber-star G-Dragon.
In his most recent stint for Chanel (you may recall that he was part of the house’s F/W 2015 casino-themed couture show), G-Dragon appears in a series of Polaroids, spotlighting the two-tone derby shoes from Chanel's 2016 Cruise collection.
As we have told you in the past, Chanel, under the helm of Karl Lagerfeld, has largely pioneered the fashion industry’s obsession with K-pop and its larger-than-life stars. For instance, before Alexander Wang was casting CL in its ad campaigns and before Moschino began cozying up with Dara and the other members of girl group, 2NE1, the Paris-based design house descended upon Seoul for its 2016 Resort show.
Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, said: “Today, South Korea is the most influential country in Asia, with its energy and creativity, its youth culture and the pop music and TV celebrities, who have become incredibly powerful, even in China and Japan. These are all great sources of inspiration for Karl Lagerfeld." He continued on: "There’s also a business reason. South Korea is a fast-growing market, a very interesting one, now also open to the Chinese and Japanese who like to travel here for tourism. South Korea has become a top destination in Asia. And, finally, there is the venue!”
As for G-Dragon, he began gracing the pages of Vogue Korea in 2013, appearing on a special three-cover issue alongside “it” models Soo Joo, Kim Sung Hee, and Ji Hye Park. A 2014 cover saw him posing with Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele. He has since covered various issues of W, Dazed & Confused, and Hypebeast, and landed editorials in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Cosmo, Numero, Esquire, and a number of other Vogues.
G-Dragon’s penchant for designer labels (as you can likely discern from his music videos - think: head to toe Chanel, Thom Browne, etc.) has found him friends in the industry’s most notable creative directors, ranging from Hedi Slimane to Karl Lagerfeld, the latter of whom he first met in early 2014. And his extreme popularity – particularly online (he has 11.2 million people following his every move on Instagram) – makes him an ideal ambassador.
As for the timing, it could not be more perfect, as Western luxury brands have been looking East rather relentlessly as a hotbed for growth. The Chinese consumer, in particular, has become wealthier and more accepting of Western retail formats since luxury brands began investing in the Chinese market, with Louis Vuitton, Bally, Gucci and Ferragamo among the first wave of retailers to open outlets in China more than 10 years ago. However, with the changing tides of consumption and luxury spending and the introduction of new – younger – spending groups, luxury brands have had to tailor their approach.
Changes are coming in terms of the countries being targeted (think: less expansion in China and more of a focus on South Korea, for instance, as many Chinese are now buying their luxury products there and by 2020, Chinese luxury consumers will spend $29 billion at South Korea luxury retailers). They are also altering the actual marketing practices being utilized. The latter appears to be taking the form of enlisting Asian ambassadors for an extra push in the modern and changing landscape, and it is here that G-Dragon fits in so perfectly.
UPDATE (6/26/2017): See G-Dragon latest campaign for Chanel - a video for the Gabrielle bag line - below.